As I mentioned in our last blog post our entire trip to the middle of Pennsylvania revolved around Ricketts Glen State Park, so in the process of planning the trip I was doing my fair amount of research trying to find places nearby that were worth exploring. Miners Run ended up being one of those places, but the next place really took us by surprise and ended up being the highlight of our entire trip.
Most places we think about going we research either by finding blog posts, official websites, or YouTube videos. Well surprisingly enough there were only a handful of blogs about this place and no real videos showing you what it is all about. Also most blog posts called this the “most dangerous waterfall hike” you’ll go on, which definitely peaked our interest, but made us a little weary at the same time. By no means are we professionals (if you haven’t noticed by now) and did all of Ricketts Glen the day before, so we were a little tired.
Waking up the morning of this hike we were not sure what to expect, but what we found was almost magical, definitely the best waterfall hike that we’ve been on to date and likely the best waterfall hike that you’ll find in Pennsylvania.
All credit for this hike goes to Jeff Mitchell who has coined this area Waterfall Wonderland.
Getting to Waterfall Wonderland
This hidden waterfall wonderland is located in State Game Lands 13, which is surprisingly only 11 minutes from the entrance to Ricketts Glen State Park. You can actually type “Sullivan Falls PA” into Google Maps and it will come up, but you’ll want to start your journey at the Sullivan Falls parking lot, which has the GPS coordinates of 41.335133, -76.338967.
The Sullivan Falls parking lot / pull-off is located on Jamison City Road (although known by some as Sullivan Falls road). Be advised that this is a narrow dirt road. When we visited (August) the road seemed fine, but you’ll likely want a 4-wheel drive vehicle to visit in the winter. The pull-off is actually quite big and is marked by a large rock that says Sullivan Falls.
Exploring Waterfall Wonderland
After parking you follow a short trail back to Sullivan Falls. Sullivan Falls is the start of this journey, but if you only have time for a single waterfall Sullivan Falls is definitely worth checking out. At around 35 feet tall it is very impressive and the massive hollow that surrounds the falls is quite daunting. Apparently some people are brave enough to jump off the cliffs above the falls into the pool below.
There is a small path that will take you down to the bottom of the falls, but it is quite steep. It was definitely harder to get back up then coming down, so keep that in mind. You can also explore the top of the falls, there is a very large pool right before the edge of the falls that almost looks like it would be a hot tub and the way the water flows into this pool is through a narrow section that was been carved out by the water, it is quite cool to see. There is a large rock that sits in front of the falls where many people have engraved their initials, we saw some dates as far back as 1984 so it seems people have been coming to Sullivan Falls for a very long time.
While you might think that Sullivan Falls is the highlight of this waterfall journey it is only the beginning. After exploring Sullivan Falls go ahead and start following the creek back. You will be walking along or in the creek most of this trip. One thing that you’ll start noticing is quite a lot of moss. We are not sure why so much moss grows here the way it does, but it is pretty cool to see. You’ll come across some small cascades and waterfall before your first large waterfall, which will appear on your right.
We did have to walk quite a while before we came upon this waterfall, so if you think you’ve gone the wrong way or something like that just keep following the creek. This waterfall marks where Pigeon Run flows into Sullivan Run. It is a pretty large waterfall with a pool in front of it, but you can actually get under it, just be careful as the rocks are very slippery.
After checking out the side waterfall continue up Sullivan Run, you come across small waterfalls and pools, which you’ll have to navigate your way around or through. I think we did this hike at the perfect time of year (August) as the water levels were low enough that we could walk along the banks of the creek without having to get all that wet. As you continue things will keep on getting greener, which makes you feel like you aren’t even in Pennsylvania.
One of my favorite waterfalls is next. This multi-cascade waterfall while not that big is completely covered in moss and there is even a smaller side waterfall that just makes the whole area seem magical. When it comes to the waterfalls you will need to climb up them, so be careful and take your time.
After a while you’ll come to a section of Sullivan Run that really opens up wide and you come to our favorite waterfall of the entire journey, which is known by some as Atticus Falls. This waterfall and the area surrounding it absolutely beautiful, we both said we felt like we were in some type of Disney movie. It is crazy to think these waterfalls are only a 10-15 minute drive from Ricketts Glenn, but not a single person was there except us! To top section of Atticus Falls were one of the harder sections of this hike to navigate, just be sure to take your time.
More and more smaller waterfalls will appear as you continue up Sullivan Run, but you’ll eventually come to the largest cascading waterfall on Sullivan Run. By this time rain had started to fall, but that made things even more of an adventure. This waterfall was actually pretty hard to navigate as well, but we made it to the top!
At the top you’ll find a fern field on your left and a small 1-2 foot waterfall a little bit ahead on your right. This marks the end of the waterfalls on Sullivan Run. Now you could as many people have actually cross over the plateau and continue down Heberly Run where there are a handful of waterfalls. If you want more information on that you can check out the Mid Atlantic Hikes blog.
Since it was raining we decided to try and make our way out and back to the car parked at the Sullivan Falls parking lot. Looking down on Sullivan Run (the way you came up), exit the creek to the LEFT. You’ll have to make your way along and high up above the creek before you come to an unmarked path. This path is actually going to take you all the way back down, but it is a pretty long walk back. You will end up crossing Pigeon Run, which has a bunch of waterfalls to check out. We were so tired and hungry we actually ended up just continuing to follow the trail back to the parking lot.
We were amazed at what we found in State Game Lands 13, it was truly magical and it was so great seeing all of the waterfalls, beautiful green moss, and just the area itself together for the first time. It really was like being in a movie and we couldn’t have asked for a better way to end our trip. This hike blows Ricketts Glen falls trail out of the water as it is more remote (no people), absolutely more beautiful, and a real adventure as you are climbing waterfalls! I know we came to this area of the state for Rickett’s Glen but the waterfalls of Sullivan Run were the real gem in this area and we would travel hours just to see what we saw. We are already planning another trip to check out Heberly Run and Pigeon Run.
Since there was not a whole lot of information online about these waterfalls if you have any questions please send us a message on Instagram and be sure to check out our gallery of photos below!
Things to Know About Waterfall Wonderland
You won’t have any service at Waterfall Wonderland and it is likely that you’ll be the only person there. Be sure to let someone know where you are and please don’t hike by yourself. If something were to happen to you it would be days, maybe even weeks before someone would find you.
After the trail to Sullivan Falls there is no real trail. You’ll be in the creek most of the time so be prepared to get wet and climb waterfalls.
Make sure you load up on bug spray, we saw more bugs down in this creek than any other place we hiked.
Remember than you are in the State Game Lands, there may be hunters in the area. We visited in August so we did not have to worry about that, but if you are visiting during active hunting season be sure to wear bright colors. You can see this page for more information on dates of hunting season etc.
The road leading to the Sullivan Falls pull-off / parking lot is not paved, this was not an issue for us as we visited in August, but in the winter this could be a problem unless you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
August seemed like the perfect time to visit as the water level was low enough that we could easily navigate and climb the waterfalls and didn’t have to leave the creek once because water stopped us.